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Butterfly Conservation

Butterfly Conservation- Glasgow & South West Scotland Branch

Chequered Skipper Sites in Scotland requiring surveying in 2011

The Chequered Skipper is a high priority species. It is a UKBAP Priority Species and is included on the Scottish Biodiversity List. Butterfly Conservation would like to see more historical Chequered Skipper sites to be surveyed in 2011 and to support this, the branch has organised another Chequered Skipper weekend at Glasdrum on 28 & 29 May 2011 - see events page for further details.

2010 was a very successful year for Chequered Skipper records and the 2010 records, 2009 records and pre-2009 records are shown on the map below. Clearly, there is a very good spread of 2010 records across the whole distribution of Chequered Skipper in Scotland and a number of new sites were found. However, there are still many sites which have not been visited in recent years and these sites still need to be visited. Survey work in the Spean Bridge area commissioned by Butterfly Conservation in 2011 identified some sites where there clearly has been loss of Chequered Skipper habitat to woodland succession in recent decades and these sites will eventually be lost unless the regeneration of birch woodland is halted. Species Action Framework funds provided by SNH can be used in these situations to clear developing birch woodland so volunteer surveys of historical Chequered Skipper sites can help conserve this wonderful butterfly by flagging up sites which might benefit from scrub clearance.

The Chequered Skipper is associated with birch and oak woodland as it requires a warmer micro-climate provided by the shelter of trees. This association with woodland makes it vulnerable to habitat degradation from woodland regeneration. Previous research into Chequered Skipper ecology has identified that this butterfly depends on a mosaic of clearings and wood edges and that suitable areas are created by occasional clearance of mature woodland and scrub. While Purple Moor Grass for the caterpillars is quite widespread in such habitat, it is the nectaring sites for the adults which may be a limiting factor as woodland regeneration results in open glades with the preferred nectaring plants, Meadow Thistle and Bugle, becoming too shady. At some sites, grazing by roe deer or low intensity sheep grazing may be sufficient to keep scrub regeneration in check, but where birch/oak woodland is well established and where deer numbers are low or where deer are excluded by fences, rotational scrub clearance is required to maintain open glades of sufficient size.

Wayleaves under power lines and woodland rides also provide good habitat where they cross suitable ground with abundant nectaring plants but these also require regular scrub clearance to maintain an optimum width of 20-25 m and scrub height no higher than 2 m.

These requirements make Chequered Skipper colonies vulnerable to deterioration from woodland regeneration and therfore surveys are required in 2011 to identify any colonies which are currently threatened by woodland regeneration and may require scrub clearance. While Chequered Skipper numbers at three nature reserves where this species is regularly monitored are stable (Glasdrum (SNH); Allt Mhuic(Butterfly Conservation) & Doire Donne (SWT)), these sites are managed to maintain woodland glades. There are concerns that at some other sites outside Nature Reserves, the Chequered Skipper may be in decline from woodland regeneration.

To find more information on Chequered Skipper sites in the Glasgow & SW Scotland and Highland branch areas which require surveys in 2011, please click on the relevant branch area in the map below:

Highland Scotland Branch

  • Fort William population
  • Spean Bridge population
  • Loch Eil population
  • Loch Shiel population
  • Loch Sunart population
  • Moidart population

Eastern Scotland Branch

  • No colonies

Glasgow & SW Scotland Branch

  • Loch Etive population
  • Glen Creran population


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